By Graham Henderson
FREMONT— Kennedy High School team captain Tino Poursimo set the tone early for the Titans.
After just over three minutes of play, the 6-foot, 220 pound senior caught a short pass from quarterback Jesse Ochoa, and then powered his way 51 yards down field, breaking tackles all the way to the end zone, giving Kennedy (1-0) its first score of its 28-26 victory over visiting Balboa High School.
The season opener pitted the physical, run-based offense of the Titans against Balboa’s quicker, pass heavy squad, let by quarterback Kerati Apilakvanichakit.
“We knew they were faster than us,” said Kennedy head coach Pete Michaletos. “If you took their five fastest guys and raced them against our fastest, their guys would be one-two-three-four-five.”
But speed alone would not be enough, as Apilakvanichakit was picked off on his first drive by Joel Arevalo, to set up Kennedy’s first touchdown on the next play.
After a four-and-out drive by the Buccaneers (0-1), Kennedy’s running back Isaiah Cortez powered his way into the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns. Cortez would finish the day rushing for a 130 yards, despite being sidelined with an ankle injury for much of the fourth quarter.
Balboa did find their groove eventually, though. A 31-yard run by Greg Warren, who ran for 40 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, put the Buccaneers on the board, despite a missed extra point attempt.
At the half, the score was tied 14-14, after a second quarter of sloppy play and missed opportunities.
Apilakvanichakit found his groove in the second half, and would finish the day with 396 yards and two touchdowns passing, along with two interceptions.
“I just felt like the game was on me, with the two picks and all,” said Apilakvanichakit, who was visibly upset after the loss. “I gotta move on and work on next game against Oakland Tech. That’s going to be a big game to prove that we’re more than just a City team.”
Along with the interceptions, it was the Titans running game that ultimately gave the team the win. With Cortez sidelined in the fourth quarter, Arevelo — who already had an interception while on defense — was able pick up where Cortez left off, running for 69 yards.
“He’s a sophomore, and he really was able to step it up today,” coach Michaletos said of Arevelo.
Cortez also came off the bench to just long enough to run 17 yards for a touchdown to put Kennedy up 28-20.
With time running out, Apilakvanichakit led the Buccaneers on a stunning drive to score, including making two long fourth-down conversions. After scoring with less than a minute remaining, Balboa was unable to make the necessary two-point conversion.
“The guys fought to the end, and that’s the thing we always emphasize,” said Balbo head coach Alvaro Carvajal, “We came up short, but I think this is really going to help us throughout the season.”
K — 9:55: Tino Pousima 51-yard pass from Jesse Ochoa (Drew Scheller kick)
K — 6:26: Isaiah Cortez 3-yard run (Scheller kick)
B — 4:46: Greg Warren 31-yard run (Kick blocked)
B — 11:54: Warren 11-yard run. (Dexter Bess pass from Kerati Apilakvanichakit on conversion)
B — 5:01: Pulusian 11-yard pass from Apilakvanichakit (Conversion failed)
K — 10:52: Cortez 2-yard run (Scheller kick)
K — 4:45: Cortez 17-yard run (Scheller kick)
B — 0:59: Andres Arellano 9-yard pass from Apilakvanichakit (Conversion failed)